The Ultimate Baby Registry Guide — MUST HAVES and What to Skip

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I had a baby this summer, hence the slowdown in both my running and my blogging.  But I’m getting back at both!  Below is a list of the items I have found most helpful in the first couple months of my baby’s life and would suggest that other parents or soon-to-be parents add to their registries.  Unless otherwise noted, I ACTUALLY USED every item on this list during the early days and thus was glad to have on hand when my baby arrived.  Enjoy!

Baby Clothes and Accessories

  • Onesies and PJs: Pro tip — don’t register for every article of clothing you think you’ll need.  I got a ton of clothes given to me by a friend whose child had outgrown them, and even if you don’t get such an awesome hookup, there are tons of used clothes available at great prices at consignment sales and on Facebook Marketplace.  For big weekend consignment sales, search locally for Just Between Friends and other annual or semi-annual sales.  There’s bound to be one around when you need it.  Then check Facebook Marketplace or Facebook moms’ groups for folks unloading lots of baby clothes.  That’s where you’ll find the best deals, but you also may have luck at consignment shops.  I’ve gotten so much good stuff secondhand — a win for my wallet and for the earth!  OK, but maybe you want to register for a few clothes, just to be sure you won’t have a naked baby.  Look for products that are made with GOTS certified organic cotton.  Get just a few inexpensive onesies in newborn size, and focus instead on the 0-3 month size and larger. We love the onesies from Burt’s Bees and Finn and Emma.  Our summer baby has only worn pants a few times, and only because they were cute, so I’d suggest focusing on onesies for summer.  That said, summer babies can also spend a lot of time just in diapers, so I wouldn’t worry too too much about a bunch of tiny outfits for a summer baby.  If you have a winter baby, consider the full-body zip up outfits, like these.  So much easier than pants and a top!  As my baby has gotten older and the weather is going to cool, we’ve also purchased a few things from mom-favorite Hanna Anderssen and the Gap, but, again, I’m finding that thrift and consignment sales are great as baby gets older and you learn what you’ll actually need and what size they will be.  For instance, my baby is growing out of certain 6 month clothes now because he is extra long, so I’ve gotten some 6-12 month outfits at the consignment sales for winter, rather than thinking I can squeak through winter in the 3-6 and 6 month clothes.  In other words, I’m glad we didn’t register for a bunch of 6 month winter gear.  (FWIW, I went to a recent county-wide consignment sale and got 19 items for $47.50!!!!)
  • Sun hat: A must-have for summer babies who are out and about.  I got this one from iPlay on Amazon and like it.  We just ordered a second one, in a larger size, for him to take to daycare.
  • Swaddles: If you are not getting the Snoo, discussed below, I recommend Halo sleep sacks or Sleepea sleep sacks or similar for easy swaddling.  Ain’t nobody got time to manually swaddle with a blanket.  We’ve also liked the Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit for when we have traveled and been away from our Snoo.  (Baby might actually prefer the sleep suit?) Although we do not use muslin swaddles for sleeping, we do use them for other things every single day.  Wiping spit up and drool.  Creating a baby nest at baby yoga and baby barre classes and in our yard. Protecting baby from bugs or the sun during walks. Keeping baby warm in the carseat. The list goes on.  So get some and keep one with you at all times!  Aden and Anais makes popular muslin blankets.
  • Blankets: We use blankets daily for various purposes with our baby.  However, we were gifted 5 or so blankets without registering for any.  I’d recommend only registering for swaddles and you are likely to get some blankets too either way.
  • Outerwear: You’ll want a Patagonia synchilla vest and jacket, along with a beanie, and some gloves.  For our summer baby, we got size 6-12 months.  Even at three months as it starts to get cool these things work fine — just roll up the sleeves.  For very cold days and snow, you’ll want a full-body snowsuit with built-in covers for hands and feet.  So much easier than coats and snow pants and gloves and boots!  (Outwear is also something you may be able to find secondhand so consider whether you want to register for these or hunt for them on your own.)

Newborn Wrap/Baby Carrier

Babywearing can make moms feel like they have at least one extra hand, which is HUGE!   We now own 6 (!!!) carriers, and I have found that a wrap carrier can be easiest for newborns.  If you are ambitious about wrapping techniques and want something that will work as baby grows, or on wearers of differing size, I recommend the Boba wrap.  If you want the easiest baby carrier out there and are OK with a limited lifespan, then the K’tan should be your choice.

There are lots of other types of carriers, including soft structured carriers like from Ergobaby and Becco and big hiking packs from Osprey.  I registered for an Osprey Poco AG because Osprey packs tend to fit me well.  I can’t wait to use it — when baby is old enough to be carried on my back, around 6 months.  In the meantime and for less intense trips, we got an Ergobaby Adapt (mesh).  We really started using it regularly when baby was 2-3 months; it feels more secure and better supports his head vs the K’Tan, although the K’Tan is the choice for on the go and around the house and was fantastic for when he was tiny tiny.

Baby Care

  • I recommend getting a rectal thermometer because that is most accurate for little babies.  While you hope your baby doesn’t get sick, you might have some false alarms and it is great to be able to tell the nurse line whether your baby has a fever.   We used this when we saw some strange purple spots on our baby’s legs (petechiae) which can be a sign of infection (he was fine).  Forehead thermometers are super convenient but way less accurate, especially for the little guys.
  • We haven’t used any baby lotions or even diaper cream (we use cloth diapers and have not had a need for any cream) but I do have some organic jojoba oil that was recommended for baby massage (which my baby loves!).  We were gifted some triple paste to have on hand in the event of a diaper rash, and we were told that was the best stuff.
  • We also have a gentle bristle brush for his hair that also came with a little silicone scrubby that we used to gently remove some dead skin/cradle cap. Not all babies have hair but mine does and it is so cute when it is brushed!
  • Cutting baby fingernails is scary, but for us, so necessary since our guy gets little claws. We got a little set of baby nail clippers with a light.
  • Before giving birth, way up on my high horse, I for some reason thought that pacifiers were a no-go, but our pediatrician gave us the green light early on.  Our lactation consultant recommended Soothie brand of pacifiers, which she felt would not interfere with his breastfeeding journey.  We are so glad to have them!  Our baby is way way comforted by sucking on pacifiers, especially at sleep time.  During the day, we let him use a Wubbanub, which is a Soothie with a little stuffed animal on it.  For sleep he uses a Soothie without animal, per safe sleep practices.
  • It would be very easy to overlook a wet bag, but don’t!  We love ours from Bumkins for soiled clothing, cloth diapers, and even disposable diapers and wipes when there is no good place to toss them.
  • When you’re not on the go, you’ll want somewhere solid to store diapers (whether cloth or disposable).  We got two Ubbi pails — one for trash and one for soiled cloth diapers — as well as the Ubbi wipe dispenser.  We are really happy with these, along with our Keekaroo Peanut Changing Pad.
  • Note: I think a baby tub is mostly unnecessary.  We had the 4 Moms bathtub handed down to us.  It works fine but for the first few months, although our baby doesn’t love being in a baby bathtub.  A sink or holding the baby in the big tub would probably be sufficient (and probably what we are going to do from now on since he doesn’t like the tub!) so don’t stress too much about a tub in the early days.  We basically just wipe him down with a washcloth and some unscented baby wash (we have Cetaphil and Burt’s Bees brands), and it takes about 3 minutes.  We haven’t used specific baby shampoo or conditioner yet, but we did register from some unscented wash from Burt’s Bees.

Milk Things 

  • Milk Collectors:  Sooo… breastmilk leaks everywhere, especially when nursing on one side (as one does…).  I use the Haakaa and milk-saving shells depending on the situation. I’ve been able to store up quite a bit of milk in the freezer from the Haakaa and think that every new mom should get one! Get some breastmilk storage bags to freeze what you collect.  I buy the Lansinoh brand but there are a bunch of options online.  Get some re-usable, washable breast pads to soak up the leakage when you aren’t using a collector.
  • Bottles: We’ve used Dr. Brown’s and Munchkin Latch without issue.  Have a few on hand even if you plan to breastfeed.  I recommend getting a level one nipple to start so that the flow of milk is nice and paced to prevent baby developing a preference for bottles over breast.  As they get bigger, they will probably want more nipple sizes, but I wouldn’t bother registering for those.  I’ve also seen some bottle sample packs with different types of bottles you can try.  Not a bad idea.
  • Bottle Drying Rack:  This seemed superfluous until I started needing it.
  • Nursing Pillow: Breastfriend or Boppy. Especially useful as you are getting the hang of things, although I stopped using it after a few weeks.  Take to the hospital. Boppy has the added benefit of being able to help prop up baby when lying down, to help protect them from falls when learning to sit, or for support when doing assisted tummy time.
  • Pump: Don’t register for a pump!  Get one through insurance.  Everyone seems to love the Spectra and the Medela.  I was given the Medela Freestyle as a hand me down, and it is awesomely portable.  (I also got a Willow pump through my husband’s employer and will be providing a review on that shortly, once I have a chance to give it a full test drive!)

Solids Feeding Things

You won’t need anything for feeding solids for the first six months, but if you’d like to pass the buck to your shower attendees, I’d recommend picking some items (bibs, utensils, high chair, and plates/bowls) from the Feeding Littles Amazon page.

Strollers

  • Travel System:  We were given the Peg Perego Primo Viaggo carseat and Book Pop Up stroller as a hand me down and are happy with them.  I especially like that the stroller comes with the bassinet, which is all we use so far (the carseat stays in the car).  A bassinet attachment is great because it is a safe sleep space for babies (carseats are not!) and also allows babies to move and wiggle naturally.  For this reason, it is favored by OTs. In fact, we have ONLY used the stroller with the bassinet and NOT as part of the travel system.  We carry or wear him the vast majority of the time.  For walks in the bassinet, I souped up my Primo Viaggo with a stroller cup holder (like this) and stroller shade and bug net (like this).  Others in my community have and like the strollers and travel systems from Uppababy and Nuna.  I’d suggest looking for a travel system with a lightweight carseat that can be used without a base if you intend to travel with it.
  • Jogging Stroller:  After much research, we got the Thule Chariot 2 Lite for jogging (after 6 months and with the add-on wheel) and off-sidewalk strolling (included).  It can also be pulled by a bike (attachment included) or cross-country skis (attachment kit not included). We got the infant seat attachment so that we could use it before baby can sit up.  It is HUGE, and we have to partially disassemble it to fit in our trunk (even on our SUV) but it is so burley and versatile, I am happy with it.  I also like that it fully encloses baby so that he is protected from bugs, and that it comes with a sunshade.  For something smaller, the more limber jogging strollers from Thule and BOB are popular.

Baby Containers

  • Car Seat: If you get a travel system, that will dictate which car seat you start with.  (As stated above, we got the Peg Perego system, including car seat.). However, if having a travel system and lightweight bucket car seat to take with you places is not important, check out the Graco 4Ever convertible car seat.  This is what we got for our families to use when we visit them.  It adapts to fit the child from newborn to age 10!  However, it is cumbersome, and it’s not something I’d want to bring on a plane and definitely not made to fit in a Trader Joe’s shopping cart.
  • Bassinet:We got the SNOO Smart Sleeper bassinet and are really happy with it, although we haven’t experienced any miraculous full nights of baby sleep.  If you get one, be sure to wait until they go on sale, which seems to happen pretty regularly.  We got ours on Black Friday.  Happy to answer questions about Snoo in the comments.
  • Dockatot:  See my previous post for my thoughts on the Dockatot. Once our baby hit about 3 months and started doing all naps in his Snoo and wanted to move around more during playtime, we used the Docktots a lot less.  But they were great for the early days!
  • Play Mat:  I got the mat from Lovevery because I was interested in non-toxic baby toys and because I liked how it adapts for the baby stages to not only last longer but also to result in less toy accumulation (hopefully!).  And it is not garish. And it basically tells you what you should be doing with your little baby which is huge because I didn’t have any time to research that and figure it out.  You’ll get a lot of mileage from this, and it’s enough to satisfy all toy needs for a few months.  (After a few months, I’d recommend Sophie the Giraffe, a Banana Brush, taggy and crinkle toys, and a few of those high-contrast and colorful hanging toys.  Once you get into 9 months+ is when you’ll start thinking about stacking donuts and xylophones and sorting boxes.)
  • Pack n Play:  I registered for the Nuna Sean Aire play yard because it is lightweight and made without harmful chemicals.  I didn’t get it but then started seeing ads for Guava Lotus on sale.  I got that one and we used it on a recent trip.  It is lightweight and very easy to set up.  Yes, a lot of hotels and Airbnbs also have travel cribs for you, but we liked having our own that we could practice with a little at home first.  And once baby is out of the SNOO, we are using the Guava Lotus as an in-room crib so that we can both adhere to the AAP recommendations on in-room sleeping AND don’t have to move our big crib into our bedroom.  Guava also has accessories available, such as a bassinet and sunshade.
  • Other “Containers”: We were very conscious of not getting too many containers, especially ones that could be too restrictive or which might interfere with his development and movement. For this reason, we did not get any exersaucers or walkers (which I think are generally discouraged by OTs).  We were given a used Mamaroo and a used Rock N Play (now recalled) — we have used both only for short periods when we need to place the baby down in a semi-upright position, usually just after he eats.  We haven’t turned the Rock N Play on at all and our baby doesn’t seem to have strong opinions on the Mamaroo movements so we have really only used it to place him in it still for a few minutes rather than using it to soothe.  When our baby craves movement, we bounce him in our arms, wear him, or sit on an exercise ball.  When he is OK to be still, we place him on his playmat, in a Dockatot, or on a blanket on the floor.  Personally, I’d recommend NOT registering for any other baby containers.  If you find that you’d like something to place your baby in once baby is here, there are tons of Mamaroos and similar available secondhand.  Also check out the free Can Do Kiddo gear guide for suggestions before buying.

Intangibles

Don’t underestimate the value of intangibles and services, especially when baby is really living a basic blob-like existence and can’t really play with toys, eat, etc.  A friend gave me a gift card for a massage, and I used it 10 days after giving birth.  Amazing!!!  Food is appreciated, or gift cards for food that can be delivered.  A neighbor made us some banana bread when we came home from the hospital, and it was fantastic.  I’ve previously written about the amazingness of postpartum doulas. Oh, and house cleaning services!  So good!

Books

I suggest not stressing about books.  You will get a ton of books to get you started, even without registering for them.  And don’t forget that you can always check out more books for free from your local library!

 

What did I miss?  What was your favorite item that you registered for?  What questions do you have???

 

 

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